Open Arms: Responding to the Involuntary Return of Undocumented Mexican Nationals
Current U.S. deportation policies present a challenge to the San Miguel community as growing numbers of Mexicans are sent here, often after many years of living in the US. In response, a local volunteer network is being organized called Caminamos Juntos (We Walk Together). A panel discussion will explain its mission and plans for transitional assistance to Mexican nationals expelled from the United States and returning to Guanajuato State.
Panelists will look at the changing patterns of migration between the United States and Mexico. “In the coming years, the Trump administration’s emphasis on a U.S. policy of deporting undocumented Mexican nationals poses important challenges to this region of Mexico,” Cliff DuRand, from the Center for Global Justice, says. “We believe it is important to increase awareness of how these deportations affect the individuals who are deported as well as local communities.”
John Simsarian, one of the organizers of Caminamos Juntos, will facilitate the discussion of the vision behind the volunteer network and its plans to assist persons who are deported as they repatriate into Mexican society.
“Guanajuato State and San Miguel have a large stake in the forced return of Mexican nationals from the United States,” Simsarian says. “Their reintegration into the Mexican nation’s domestic life presents a challenge that this community can shape into an opportunity.”
Guanajuato State has been a leading supplier of undocumented workers to the United States. Based on the annual surveys of the Migration Policy Institute, some 10,600 migrant workers departed Guanajuato State for the U.S. in 2015 alone, representing 11 percent of the total surveyed Mexican migration for that year, the largest contingent of all Mexican states and Mexico City.
Mexican undocumented workers typically remain in the United States for many years and establish families there. Marc Berube, another Caminamos Juntos organizer, suggests that the large cohort of workers from Guanajuato State in any single year could result in a larger group of Mexican nationals from Guanajuato being targeted for expulsion from the U.S. “ In the coming years, the likely number of involuntarily returned Mexican nationals with roots in our region is many tens of thousands. A significant percentage could be arriving in San Miguel,” Berube says.
The Caminamos Juntos network of volunteers will complement government assistance to persons involuntarily returned and build upon San Miguel’s distinctive character as a welcoming and resourceful civic culture. This civic effort will assist individuals who have been productive and self-sufficient in the U.S. for many years to put down new roots and rebuild their lives in their home country.
La Biblioteca Publica, Rejoj 50A, Centro
San Miguel de Allende, GUA 37700